As I write this blog entry, I am wondering if I need a bucket handy. I’m not feeling too good, and it’s all due to my new food challenge this week. My wild food week is now over – it was a lot of fun and I especially enjoyed meeting Kris Miners – (I’ll let you know at the end of the month whether it helped me save cash) and now I am travelling back in time to World War Two and rationing. As food prices spiral, some people have suggested that revisiting WW2 recipes and our waste not, want not attitude to food then, might help shoppers save and maybe even fight obesity.
Well, my first attempt at cooking a WW2 recipe has certainly helped me lose my appetite! I’d been leafing through my Eating for Victory book, a collection of WW2 cooking instruction leaflets from the Ministry of Food, to try to find a quick lunch recipe, and I came across one called Cheese Savoury. It sounded harmless enough – just mix a beaten egg (or reconstituted egg) with half a pint of milk, seasoning, 4 oz grated cheese, 4 oz breadcrumbs and some mustard, and bake in a greased oven dish for 20 minutes. Compared to some of the offal recipes, I felt I was breaking myself in gently.
DJ had the day off yesterday and we were lunching together. I served up the cheese savoury, which strongly resembled a pile of cat sick, onto a plate with a little side salad al fresco as the weather was nice. He sat down uncertainly and gazed at the plate in disbelief. “I’m sorry, but I can’t eat this,” he said, looking green. In my enthusiasm I’d forgotten he has a strong aversion to soggy bread. “Don’t worry, I’ll make something else,” DJ said, while I gamely tucked in. Surely it couldn’t be that bad? But soon I began to feel queasy. The taste of mustard was very strong and I wondered if I hadn’t cooked it for long enough, as perhaps the breadcrumbs should be hard and not soggy. I couldn’t work out whether I was still hungry or going to be ill. I thought I was tired of eating dandelions, but come back weeds, all is forgiven!
I just hope the other wartime recipes are more appetising. How on earth did people stand eating this stuff during the war, or have we just become big food softies? I don’t know. At least tonight’s meal should be tastier. John the Poacher has done us proud this week with two wood pigeons. He also brought us a rabbit but unfortunately some of the shot had entered the stomach cavity, which can contaminate the meat so we weren’t able to use it. But game and rabbits weren’t rationed during the war so we can eat our fill.
The kitchen was a sight as we set about trying to deal with the fare. The patio is still covered in pigeon feathers, but hopefully my neighbour will assume it is the cat’s doing. Funnily enough, Dougal the cat felt the need to join in with his own contribution to the wartime larder.
After observing DJ dealing with the pigeons, he ran into the house clutching a mouse in his mouth, (fortunately still intact) and as I tried to rescue it, it disappeared. Where had it gone? I puzzled for about five seconds before realising the creature had done precisely what any stereotypical mouse would do – it ran up the leg of my jeans! I shrieked a little – more out of surprise than fear – and shook the bellbottom of my jeans and out it came!
Do you have any memories of World War Two food or rationing? Did your parents or grandparents tell you what they used to eat? Let me know by leaving a comment.